Julia Stone & Benjamin Biolay

Honey-voiced Australian singer Julia Stone teamed up with French hero Benjamin Biolay for the first single off of her new sophomore album, By The Horns. A rework of Julia’s single Let’s forget all the things that we say. The album, by the way, also features a cover of The National’s Bloodbuzz Ohio. Album’s out in May, this single is, as far as I know, only available in France.

Julia Stone & Benjamin Biolay – Let’s forget

Becky & Serge Go Motown

Liverpoolian babe Rebecca Ferguson came second to some painter dude on British casting couch show X-Factor in 2011. She sang Chris Isaac’s Wicked Game then, he crooned Amy Winehouse and Roberta Flack. They must have swapped the songs inadvertently, since Becky Ferguson’s debut album Heaven is unmistakably another one in the Retro Soul Mixed With Dusty, Randy, Macy, Tracy, Amy & Adele Vein. With a difference. Although with the help of Adele collaborator Eg White, her songs are mostly self-written, and okay ones. The most remarkable one might be Mr. Bright Eyes, sounding for a few elusive déja-vu moments like Serge G. had once been a contract writer for Berry Gordy. But come to think of postmodernism and intertextuality: Probably Serge had listened to some Motown records back in 1967, too.

Rebecca Ferguson – Mr. Bright Eyes

Amylie, Carlotti

We don’t overuse the expression ‘yearlist material, people’ on this blog, yet were not afraid to use it either. This year, Fanny Bloom got tapped, and now I’m adding Barbara Carlotti’s L’Amour L’Argent Le Vent and Amylie’s Le Royaume to that Indispensable-list. Quebecoise Amylie released her sophomore cd, it’s richer in sound (orchestral, if you like) than her extraordinary debut, but there are heavy beats too, like in Comme un reine. Amylie flirts with classic chanson the same way Coeur de Pirate did on her second album, but updates it. Overall, the atmosphere is upbeat, her voice is strong, serene and sexy, and rockabilly workout Les Filles deserves to be a big summer hit.
Carlotti is a little more seasoned, L’Amour… is her third album, and less girlie then Amylie’s. The atmosphere reminds me of Air’s first EP (that’s meant as a compliment), her lyrics are based on literature, her travels to Brazil and India made an impression and she revisits the music she listened to as a 14-year old (Kraftwerk, Lio, Daho) on the track Quatorze ans. It’s less folky than earlier stuff, but as gentle and breezy. Love her duet with Philippe Katerine as well.
Both albums sound elegant, detailed and classy. Did I mention that they’re both yearlist material, people?

Barbara Carlotti – J’ai changé
Amylie – Bouche coucuse

Public Serge

You must’ve noticed the stream of ‘public domain’ compilations with Gainsbourg-songs recorded pre-1962. Most of those rehash the same stuff, the first EPs, the Gréco-versions, the Alain Goraguer-filmscores and the odd Michèle Arnaud or Les Frères Jacques-cover. Very rarely, as fellow FS-writer Sky also noted here, such a compilation is done right, i.e. with all the relevant recording data, informative liner-notes and/or remarkable ‘new’ material. The Frémaux & Associés-released triple-cd ‘Intégrale Serge Gainsbourg et ses interprètes 1957-1960′ is a noteworthy exception. Though it’s claimed to include ’13 Titres Inédits Sur CD’, it actually has five songs that I hadn’t heard before, or couldn’t track on other compilations. Four Gainsbourg-songs recorded in 1958 in the Paris’ Alliance Française, and a live-version of Le poinçonneur… by Hugues Aufray, recorded in L’Olympia. The Gainsbourg-tracks, with their introduction and little interview, show that the stories about Serge’s stagefright weren’t exaggerated – he sounds like a rabbit in the headlights. This new comp is fairly cheap, expansive and includes enough nice covers and versions (Trumpet Boy, Simone Bartel, Francis Lemarque, the odd Los Goragueros-cover) to recommend. So there.

Serge Gainsbourg – Douze belles dans la peau (live @ Alliance Française 1958)
Hugues Aufray – Le poinçonneur des Lilas (live @ Olympia, 1958)

Marianne Dissard

She’s in Europe again, our beloved husky Tucsonian seductress Marianne, performing for crowds in Lyon, France and more in Germany (*sobs*). But she’s bringing a touring cd, that you can also download via her Bandcamp (here). You only see two tracks, but there’s more. Way more. A duet you can’t afford to miss, with ‘a Belgian friend’ with a very distinct singing voice (*cough*), there’s a remix (listen here!), there are several beautiful versions of great MD-tracks like Cayenne and Fugu, and, well, it’s Marianne, so what else do you need to know? Go see her if you’re in Germany, kiss her from us, and say we’re very much looking forward to her collab with an Italian composer.
And because Marianne loves us back, here’s a free download of Fondre, from her Berlin Takes touring cd.

Marianne Dissard – Fondre

Ghost Loft, Possimiste

Every now and then I get ‘music submissions’ from artists that have a FS-feel (i.e. sultry, kooky, Gainsbourgian) but who don’t sing in French. At FS HQ, we like to keep it clear what we post on this blog (i.e. sultry, kooky, Gainsbourgian AND French), but these two tracks I recently received are just too good to keep from you. And when Possimiste replied to my email in French, well, I just couldn’t resist.

I loved the artwork for Blow by Ghost Loft, the moniker of LA-resident ‘Danny’. This track reminds me of Everything But The Girl mixed with Junior Boys, melancholitronica. If you ever try something in French (or with French samples), lemmeknow Danny!

From her bio: Possimiste is a young 19-year-old Estonian fantasy-hippie-experimental-singer-songwriter, who likes to break the borders of music genres and reality, turning fairytales into music and music into fairytales. You can hear gnomes and windbells, living toys, fairies, angels, birds, tree-spirits and other mythological forest creatures. Though her music is hard to define, she has been described as a melancholic mixture of birds, Sigur Ros, Mum, Arvo Pärt, Ane Brun and Björk.